Business rates are a tax on non-domestic premises, including most commercial properties such as shops, offices, pubs, warehouses and factories. The money raised through business rates is used to help fund local services like the police, fire and rescue services.
Business rates are generally calculated by multiplying the rateable value of commercial premises by the business rates multiplier before any eligible reliefs are deducted. Business rates are treated differently in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the rates relief schemes vary across the UK.
In England, the available reliefs include small business rate relief, rural rate relief and charitable rate relief. In addition, some properties are eligible for exempted buildings and empty buildings relief from the local council on their business rates.
In Wales, the main reliefs are the small business rates relief scheme, the charitable and non-profit organisations rates relief and relief on empty properties. Local councils can also grant hardship relief under certain circumstances.
In Scotland, there are a large number of reliefs available. These include Small Business Bonus Scheme, Empty Property Relief, Charitable Rate Relief, Fresh Start, Business Growth Accelerator Relief, Hardship Relief and Rural Rate Relief.
In Northern Ireland, the reliefs include the Small Business Rate Relief, Small Business Rate Relief for small Post Offices, Charitable Exemption, Sport and Recreation Rate Relief.